Ed News: Educators Want To Rethink The Way Students Learn Science

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This week in education news, researchers and teachers want to change the way students learn science; Californians strongly support expanding science and computer education beginning at the primary level; teachers are finding creative ways to use robots in class; New Mexico’s Public Education Department drops some of the proposed changes to state science standards; Lego unveils new set of figures celebrating the women of NASA; and rural schools can teach STEM skills thanks to Makerspaces.

Educators Want To Rethink The Way Students Learn Science

Researchers and educators are trying to transform the way students learn science. Forget sit-and-get lessons, they say—students should be active participants in their learning, which should be inquiry-based. Students should be encouraged to vocalize their understanding throughout the learning process, educators say. Read the article featured in Education Week’s TEACHER magazine.

California Voters Strongly Back Expanded K-12 Science And Computer Education, Poll Shows

Californians overwhelmingly support expanding science and computer education starting in elementary school, according to a Berkeley IGS/EdSource poll. The online survey of 1,200 registered voters in California found that 87 percent favored schools putting “greater emphasis on integrating science as part of the entire public school curriculum.” Although by far the majority of respondents said they had never heard of the Next Generation Science Standards, the new science standards adopted by the state in 2013, 68 percent support the concept once the standards were described to them. Read the article featured in Ed Source.

Dive Into STEM: Engaging Diverse Students Requires An Inward Look

The National Center for Education Statistics shows from 2008 to 2015 the percentage of STEM degrees and certificates were granted to women in the U.S. dropped from 65.1% to 60.4%. And in terms of race, NCES shows that in the same period the same percentage of degrees going to going to blacks and hispanics didn’t really change much, hovering at around 9% and 10% respectively. But at the same time, performance standards from National Assessment Educational Progress report show girls ranked about the same on the science test as men. And since 2009, both blacks and hispanics saw overall percentage point increases in scores as well. Decent and increasing performance, combined with declining rates of degrees among underrepresented groups, presents a much different picture than the one suggested by many in the industry of diverse students and women naturally lagging behind their counterparts. Read the article featured in Education DIVE.

Teachers Are Finding Innovative Ways To Use Robots In Class

While some teachers remain wary of bringing artificial intelligence and automatons into the classroom, others are taking robots beyond STEM classes and into lessons on language arts, social studies, and even art and music. Read the article featured in Education Week’s TEACHER magazine.

K12 Leaders See Flexibility In Alternative Credentialing

Fourteen teachers in Utah’s Ogden School District reached the classroom via a nontraditional, perhaps looser route. Rather than attend a teaching college and earning the standard credentials, they leveraged their bachelor’s degrees and professional expertise. The new state rule that allows this—called Academic Pathway to Teaching—mimics new policies a handful of other states have passed or are considering to cope with a nationwide teacher shortage. Read the article featured in District Administration.

State Backs Off Controversial Science Standards

Hundreds of people turned out in Santa Fe on Monday to oppose the state’s plans to enact science standards that left out facts on climate change and evolution. Now, the head of the Public Education Department (PED) says he has reconsidered those controversial changes. Read the article featured in the New Mexico Political Report.

Women Of NASA Get Their Own Lego Set

Lego has unveiled a set of figures celebrating the women of NASA. The 231-piece set features Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut, and Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space. Also included in the set are figures of astronomer and educator Nancy Grace Roman and computer scientist Margaret Hamilton. Read the article by the Associated Press.

The Problem With The Pipeline

If you’ve spent any time listening to conversations about STEM education, you’ve surely heard about the pipeline. Different groups talk about variations of the pipeline. Some describe a pipeline from science education to a STEM career, or as a way to describe a treacherous path through such an education that loses many female, black, Latino, or American Indian people along their educational careers. But the variations are all based on an idea that impacts entire sectors of our 21st-century economy: the preschool-to-Ph.D. pipeline. Read the article featured in Slate magazine.

Thanks To Makerspace, Rural Schools Can Teach STEM Skills Too

While rural schools are often struggling with digital equity issues — from Wi-Fi outside of school to adequate technology-related professional development for teachers — they can still embrace innovative technologies with a few tweaks. With 9 million students enrolled in rural school districts, organizations such as Future Ready Schools have stepped up to outline plans so those students don’t get left behind from trends like personalized learning. Some school districts are finding that those same 9 million students are perfectly suited for a “maker mindset” and makerspaces at their schools can be a one-two punch of offering up STEM skills and helping communities. Read the article featured in Ed Tech: Focus on K-12.

High-Achieving Students Don’t Want To Be Teachers. What Can Change Their Minds?

Around the world, students who want to go into teaching tend to have poorer math and reading skills than students who plan to work as professionals outside of teaching. This is according to a new analysis of 2006 Program for International Student Assessment survey data of 15 year olds. On average, around 44 percent of students in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries said they expect to work in professions that require a university degree—but only 5 percent of students expected to work as teachers. Read the article featured in Education Week.

Stay tuned for next week’s top education news stories.

The Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs (CLPA) team strives to keep NSTA members, teachers, science education leaders, and the general public informed about NSTA programs, products, and services and key science education issues and legislation. In the association’s role as the national voice for science education, its CLPA team actively promotes NSTA’s positions on science education issues and communicates key NSTA messages to essential audiences.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.


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